LawPracticeCLE, LLC has discriminated against deaf and hard-of-hearing attorneys by failing to provide captioning or other auxiliary aids and services for its online legal education courses, a proposed class action alleges.
According to the 10-page case, LawPracticeCLE, a provider of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses in which attorneys must participate to maintain their licenses, has denied deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals the full benefits of its online programs by failing to provide reasonable accommodations—such as captioning and the ability to call into a course and thereby connect the audio directly to an individual’s hearing aids—in accordance with federal law.
“As is set forth in this Complaint, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires CLE providers to make those accommodations available,” the complaint, filed June 21 in Florida federal court, attests.
The plaintiff is a practicing attorney who, according to the lawsuit, is nationally known as an expert on the ADA and “severely to profoundly hard of hearing.” Per the case, the plaintiff has provided course content to LawPractice on two occasions and, in exchange, has been offered free lifetime access to the defendant’s courses. The plaintiff argues, however, that he cannot take full advantage of his free access to LawPractice courses given the defendant has not offered reasonable accommodations, such as captioning or dial-in access to a live presentation, the suit says.
The case asserts that captioning, i.e., when spoken material is put into written form and displayed in synch with an oral presentation, would allow the plaintiff and other individuals with hearing impairments to “fully understand and equally benefit” from online courses with audio. The plaintiff says that even with hearing aids, he has “significant hearing loss” and requires auxiliary aids and services that can provide effective communication.
Closed captioning, the suit explains, is available for virtually all television programs and can be used for CLE courses. The plaintiff points out that several other CLE providers afford closed captioning for their courses.
According to the suit, the ADA specifies that course providers such as the defendant are required to “offer such examinations or courses in a place and manner accessible to persons with disabilities or offer alternative accessible arrangements for such individuals.”
“By failing to provide captioning or any other effective method of making orally delivered material available to [the plaintiff] or other individuals similarly situated, LawPractice CLE is violating the ADA,” the complaint alleges.
The plaintiff seeks an injunction requiring LawPractice to provide auxiliary aids and services for its courses and indicate on its website and in advertising that such services are available and for which courses they are available, if not all.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s newsletter here.